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date: 28 February 2021


  • Margaret Stephana Drower,
  • Eric William Gray
  •  and Susan Mary Sherwin-White


The country between the *Tigris and the *Euphrates. The name is generally used to include the whole alluvial country south of the mountains, and the deserts on either side, i.e. the ancient kingdoms of *Assyria and *Babylonia, modern Iraq. Classical writers usually regarded Mesopotamia as excluding Babylonia.

As an important political and commercial link between *Syria, *Cappadocia, and Babylonia, Mesopotamia was colonized extensively by the *Seleucids. It was a frequent battle-ground of Roman and Parthian armies. Mesopotamia was overrun by *Trajan (ce 114–17) (his Provincia Mesopotamia was promptly abandoned by *Hadrian) and again overrun by L. *Verus (162–5) and *Septimius Severus (197–9) but was not permanently occupied. Part of Upper Mesopotamia, however, became Roman after the campaigns of Verus and was formed into a separate province, ‘Mesopotamia’, by Severus. See also Hatra; Osroëne.

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